The power of the internet has opened many possibilities, especially for online businesses. Ecommerce is a rapidly growing global market with $1.5 trillion worth of sales made in 2015. Since then, the figure has increased to $2.86 trillion.
As the industry is expected to grow even larger every year, you can use this opportunity to secure a source of income!
However, establishing an online shop requires you to have a website. On top of that, the process of creating a site is hard for those who are not skilled in programming languages.
Fortunately, many tools allow you to design and manage online stores easily now. You only have to select one that fits your needs.
To help you make an informed choice, I will highlight the 10 best ecommerce platforms based on their features, price, ease of use, and scalability.
What Is an Ecommerce Platform?
An ecommerce platform takes away the difficulty of building a website and the need to use multiple tools to maintain a store.
Online stores have to look great, yet need to be easy to operate and navigate – you do not want complaints about bad appearance or menu buttons that are hard to click.
Because of that, ecommerce platforms help users by providing a tool that simplifies web design tasks. They usually come with a “drag-and-drop” interface, which lets you create website pages by choosing components and dragging them to the place that you want.
Apart from that, ecommerce platforms also make store management simpler than ever. They combine various functionality, like order management, marketing, analytics, and so on.
However, the features of each platform in this article are different. To know which has the facilities that you need, let’s dive into the list below.
The 10 Best Ecommerce Platforms
As I mentioned before, this list of the best ecommerce platforms is based on price, features, scalability, and ease of use:
Established in 2006, Shopify has become one of the most famous ecommerce platforms ever since. Today, there are already 800, 000 online stores that use this platform.
- Shopify is self-hosted, which means that you do not need to get a web hosting service. Even though it does not provide a free domain name, you can search and buy one through the platform. Apart from that, Shopify users can also use a domain name that they purchased from a different registrar.
- The platform is popular for its ease of use and setup process. With its intuitive template editor, anyone can easily modify their shop’s appearance. Shopify also lets web design geeks make customizations with HTML and CSS.
- Beautiful themes are another main advantage of this platform. No matter what your niche is, you can choose from more than 70 mobile-friendly templates. Free themes are also available, and they do not look any less professional than the premium ones.
- Shopify’s 24/7 customer support is available through email, chat, phone, and Twitter. On top of that, users can also access the help forum, video tutorials, and even free webinars.
- Despite Shopify’s self-hosting capability and ease of use, its monthly price can be expensive for users who have a small budget. The platform has three plans: Shopify Basic ($29), Shopify ($79), and Shopify Advanced($299).
- There is a $9 plan, namely Shopify Lite. However, it is missing a lot of features that the Basic plan offers. Plus, its users can only embed products on their Facebook page or website.
- The built-in advanced reporting, allows you to make custom reports, is only available in the Advanced plan. Without it, you will not be able to see important statistics like customer, finance, and marketing reports.
- Shopify stores’ features are built using add-ons called Shopify apps. Even though they provide various helpful tools, many of them require users to pay.
Even though using Shopify is a significant investment, it is proven to be a favorite platform for creating and hosting an online shop – with more than a million users as of today.
One of the reasons is the many add-ons that it offers. A lot of them are either premium or free to install with paid plans, but you do not have to spend a lot of money on them.
Before building the store, you can plan the features that are relevant to it. That way, you can trim your budget while using Shopify.
Apart from the high price, Shopify is a great choice for those who want to scale up their store. All of their plans except Lite let you have unlimited products.
Talking about ecommerce is incomplete without WooCommerce. This popular WordPress plugin has more than three million active installations and powers over 28% of all online stores in the world.
- WooCommerce is free. To use it, you need to install the plugin on WordPress – which means that you get the freedom of customization that the content management system is known for too.
- Since WooCommerce is on WordPress, users can access thousands of themes that fit any type of store. Plus, many of them support the plugin and its add-ons. WooCommerce itself offers a couple of official themes, but they require you to pay.
- Even though modifying themes in WordPress is not as easy as with other platforms like Shopify, it is more in-depth. Moreover, WooCommerce is open-source, meaning that web developers can customize the plugin as well.
- Managing your store is effortless with WooCommerce. The plugin’s users can organize inventory and orders and even create email marketing templates with a few clicks.
- In contrast to the previous platform, WooCommerce gives thorough reporting for free. Furthermore, users can choose which statistical summaries to view on their dashboard.
- Since WooCommerce can only be used with WordPress, you need to get a web hosting service. Depending on which provider you choose, the cost can be very low or steep.
- Users also need to buy a domain name before installing WordPress. Similarly to web hosting services, their price also varies.
- WooCommerce does not limit the size of their users’ store. However, you have to look for a hosting plan with an adequate amount of resources, such as storage space and bandwidth. Otherwise, your online shop will not have enough space for its database – thus it will not be able to handle a lot of visitors.
- Unfortunately, WooCommerce only provides customer support through email. Though, its website has documentation articles to help users learn the plugin.
Even though WordPress is not the most user-friendly ecommerce platform, it’s the most user-friendly content management system and thus, the most popular ecommerce platform out there.
Popularity is not the only reason why the plugin is famous. Compared to Shopify, WooCommerce has more free add-ons. Combined with other WordPress integrations and plugins that are compatible with WooCommerce, the capability to customize your shop is almost limitless.
Magento is not very easy to learn but is known for its in-depth customization capability features, such as customer segmentation. Despite the rise of platforms that are easier to use, Magento remains one of the most powerful options for ecommerce.
- Like WooCommerce, Magento is open-source. For developers, this ecommerce platform gives total freedom for modification.
- Since the platform is open-source, it is also free to use. All you need is to install it on a hosting service and get a domain name for your shop.
- Users can extend Magento’s functionality with more than four thousand add-ons. The features that you can get from them include site optimization and marketing tools.
- Even though it caters to users with web development skills, Magento also has a drag-and-drop website builder. Because of that, those who are not trained in IT can set up and launch their stores.
- The ecommerce platform supports the model-view-controller (MVC) architecture. This allows your store’s pages to load fast even when there is a lot of visitors. What is more, the architecture enables unlimited scalability.
- Magento only has 14 themes – none of which are free. Nevertheless, you can tackle this problem if web design is your expertise.
- As a content management system (CMS), Magento requires some expenses during the setup, including web hosting and domain name costs.
- While users get access to add-ons and an intuitive page builder, the platform’s true capability can only be unlocked if you understand coding.
Magento may not be a suitable choice for users who want to create and control their online store easily. Because of its steep learning curve, you will have to spend more time to master it.
If you are willing to learn to code, however, Magento is capable of powering a large business website with lots of visitors and orders.
Plus, the platform gives the freedom to modify both the appearance and the features for free, only at the cost of your time.
If you need any help, Magento’s customer support can be contacted through phone and email. Apart from that, the platform’s website has in-depth documentation and a user forum.
Wix is famous for its easy-to-use website builder and hundreds of professional-looking templates. With that in mind, you can also use it to build an online store without any technical knowledge.
- Wix is a self-hosted platform like Shopify. Because of that, you do not have to get a web hosting service. However, you may want to get a domain name for your store since the web builder only provides a subdomain.
- Like any other popular website builder, Wix makes website creation easy with drag-and-drop functionality. On top of that, there is Wix ADI, that lets you design a website with the help of artificial intelligence.
- Wix has a built-in stock photo library. With this feature, users do not have to buy licenses from third-party photo websites.
- If you think Shopify is too expensive, you can get similar quality and ease of use at a much lower price with Wix. It has five premium plans that range from $4.50 to $24.50 per month.
- Even though one of its premium plans is optimized for ecommerce, Wix does not have good scalability. What contributes to that is the limited storage and add-ons.
- Many of Wix’s add-ons are either free or contain a free plan. However, they do not provide as many functionalities as Shopify’s.
Wix is not suitable for those who have been in the ecommerce industry for a while. It only provides basic online store features and small storage amounts
But for people who want to start their first shop, the website builder is a great option. All of the technical parts of web design are already taken care of – all you need to do is pick a template and edit the content to your liking.
On top of that, you already get a built-in site booster and unlimited bandwidth starting at $12.50 per month. With that in mind, Wix is more than enough to power a small business website.
Founded in 2009, BigCommerce is a new brand in the ecommerce platform market. However, it already has over 46 thousand websites.
- BigCommerce is yet another self-hosted platform. What makes it more interesting is that users get unlimited storage, bandwidth, and products.
- The platform’s customer support is live 24/7 via chat, email, and phone. On top of that, there are video tutorials, knowledge base articles, and a user forum to help you. For tech geeks, BigCommerce also provides API and theme documentation.
- The platform’s app gallery only consists of a few hundred apps, but it offers integration with various popular services. They include PayPal marketing solutions, Facebook Ads, and Google Ads.
- With the BigCommerce for WordPress plugin, users can get the best of both worlds. While BigCommerce takes care of store management, WordPress enables you to optimize your website.
- Despite the benefits, BigCommerce’s plans are pricey. The standard plan is $29.95, while the most expensive one is $249.95.
BigCommerce best fits experienced users who want to upgrade their ecommerce projects. The platform has a high cost, but the features are worth it. With unlimited storage, products, and bandwidth for each of the plans, what else can we ask for?
Not only does it offer integration with many social media and marketing platforms, but BigCommerce also has a WordPress plugin. It allows you to use the CMS’s collection of site optimization tools along with the ecommerce platform.
OpenCart was launched in 2005 and currently powers more than 3000 active websites. Since it is open-source, the ecommerce platform is free to use.
- OpenCart is one of the only CMSs that allows users to have unlimited products in their store. With this capability, you can upscale your online shop easily as long your hosting service can handle it.
- The ecommerce platform lets you have and manage more than one store through one account. To make it easy for you to handle them, each store gets its own dashboard.
- OpenCart has a built-in affiliate system. This means you can let clients promote your products to others and get a commission from every sale. What is more, you have the authority to set how much they get from the affiliate program.
- Other than the affiliate system, there are some features in OpenCart that are not built-in in other ecommerce platforms. Its reward points program is one of them.
- Apart from documentation and user forums, you have to pay to get customer support. The platform offers two support plans, which are a single-time fix ($99) or a monthly service ($99 per month). Even worse, the response time is up to 48 hours.
- Like WordPress and Magento, OpenCart needs to be installed on a hosting service – which requires a process that can be confusing for some users. Fortunately, some hosting providers offer instant installation for this ecommerce platform.
OpenCart is a great choice for an ecommerce platform if you have enough to get a domain name and decent web hosting service.
The platform offers out-of-the-box features that are useful for creating a unique experience for customers. Plus, it provides an intuitive dashboard that shows your store’s statistics for no cost.
One of the only few drawbacks of this platform is the paid customer support. With that in mind, OpenCart is more recommended for advanced users who have technical knowledge around websites and ecommerce.
Even though it has been around since 1999, Volusion may not be as popular as some other ecommerce platforms. Nevertheless, it has more than 30 thousand active websites as of today.
- Volusion has a built-in dropshipping feature. With this capability, you can start selling without having any physical products in stock. Though, you need to be mindful of suppliers and shipping dates.
- Volusion offers a drag-and-drop website builder. If you are a developer, you can also modify your online shop’s appearance using CSS.
- Volusion’s customer support is available 24/7 through phone, email, and chat. Even when you are not a registered user, your chats with the staff are saved.
- The platform’s tools are mostly built-in. On top of that, it offers integrations with various marketing services, social media channels, and payment gateways for additional features.
- With three plans that cost from $29 to $299 per month, Volusion is as expensive as Shopify. If you get the yearly subscription, however, the monthly fee is discounted by 10%.
- Volusion’s template gallery is tiny compared to other platforms’. There are only 14 free and around 30 premium themes, which are $180 each.
If you want an all-in-one solution for ecommerce, Volusion is the platform to choose. Even though its plans are pricey, you get powerful built-in features and useful integrations.
However, it may not be the platform to choose if you prioritize design. Volusion does not have a wide selection of templates, even though you can customize them using the platform’s content editor.
Like Magento, PrestaShop is a CMS that focuses on ecommerce. Recently, however, it launched a self-hosted and managed service as well. Also, this France-based ecommerce platform has seen a constant increase in user through the past years.
- Since it is a CMS, you can download PrestaShop for free. Plus, it enables users to perform in-depth customization.
- With its partnership with Cart2Cart, PrestaShop lets you migrate easily from another ecommerce platform if you previously used one. The supported platforms include Shopify, Volution, and OpenCart.
- Updating your modules is difficult when you install a lot of them. In the latest version of PrestaShop (1.7), there is a one-click-update button that solves this problem.
- Optimizing the URL and meta title of your shop’s pages is important to make you more discoverable on Google. Even though other platforms also allow you to do it, Prestashop makes this task easier. Users can manage all of their product pages in a list.
- The only free customer support that PrestaShop users get is through the phone. Live chat and ticket support is available, but you have to pay a fee to use them. Even worse, the service is time-limited.
- PrestaShop has thousands of templates and add-ons. Unfortunately, most of them are premium and have a high price.
With its costly themes and add-ons, PrestaShop may not be one of the most cost-effective platforms in this list. Not to mention that customer support requires you to pay.
However, PrestaShop is easier to operate than its CMS counterparts, such as Magento. It has a couple of built-in marketing features, like coupon codes and free shipping options, which will make it effortless to increase customer engagement.
Squarespace is a popular alternative to Wix, but with a slightly higher price. With around 1.9 million websites using Squarespace, it is worth knowing what this platform offers for online stores.
- Squarespace is a great choice for upscaling a business. Both of its ecommerce plans do not only offer unlimited bandwidth and storage but also numbers of products.
- In terms of pricing, the platform is not very budget-friendly. Nevertheless, users get a free SSL certificate with every plan.
- Unlike other platforms that I mentioned, Squarespace does not have an app store. Thankfully, you get a load of useful built-in features.
- Each of Squarespace’s ecommerce plans only gives one business Gmail account. This is a big drawback if a team manages your store.
- The platform also provides one free domain name. However, it is only free for the first year, and users can only opt for this offer if they buy the yearly plan.
- Users who are looking for customer support may get disappointed. Even though Squarespace’s email support is available 24/7, its live chat feature is only online from Monday to Friday and operates from 4 a.m. to 8 p.m. Eastern Time.
As a platform that provides an easy way to create an online store with a lot of functionality and beautiful design, Squarespace is still pricey.
Despite the amount of fees that you have to pay, the platform has powerful built-in features. They include video backgrounds, social media integration, advanced statistics, order management, and much more.
Because of its small selection of templates, you may need to look for a web designer’s help to make your shop stand out aesthetically.
Founded in 1997, 3dcart is the oldest platform on this list. Even though it saw a decrease in users in the last few years, the platform remains a great ecommerce solution.
- Like Volusion, 3dcart has a dropshipping feature. The plan costs $8.99 per month and allows you to have a thousand products in your store.
- The 24/7 customer support is available through phone, email, and chat. Though, the phone support is not accessible for the most basic plan.
- With unlimited bandwidth and products in every plan, 3dcart fits online shops of various sizes. In other words, upscaling is possible whenever you are ready for it.
- The platform’s open API allows users with technical knowledge to develop custom add-ons. This is useful if you are not happy with the add-ons that 3dcart has.
- Even without the add-ons, the platform offers a lot of built-in features. One of the most useful is its Google Shopping feed optimization. This feature increases the possibility that your products are displayed in the shopping tab of Google search.
- The platform is not very budget-friendly. Even with its most basic plan, you need to pay $17.10 per month – and you only get two business email accounts.
- There are not a lot of free options in 3dcart’s template gallery. What is more, the paid themes cost a lot.
Even though 3dcart requires a big investment, what it offers is worth the price. The most basic plan, for example, can already be used for a medium-sized ecommerce site since it allows for unlimited products and bandwidth.
What is more, all plans are equipped with awesome built-in store, order, and marketing management tools. Not only does it help with search engine optimization, but 3dcart also gives users the opportunity to show their products on Google Shopping.
The Advantages of Using Ecommerce Platforms
It is possible to create an online store from scratch. However, it will require you to master various programming languages. That is the reason why you should start with an ecommerce platform.
Apart from that, there are other benefits that you can get, including:
- Minimal Initial Investment. If you cannot code, hiring a web developer to build a business site is the alternative. Though, it can cost up to a couple of thousands of dollars, depending on the features that you want. Ecommerce platforms, on the other hand, are not that expensive. Moreover, some of them have multiple built-in functionalities that are enough to power an online shop.
- Easy Setup. CMSs like OpenCart and PrestaShop already make it easier for users to create and manage an ecommerce site. But if you want to focus only on running the business, website builders are the option. They are not only simpler to operate but also takes care of more setup tasks, such as web hosting and site security.
- International Reach. Some ecommerce platforms can automatically translate your store into many different languages. Because of that, you can reach customers from more places. But before thinking about that, you should select payment gateways that accept multiple currencies. More importantly, make sure that your shipping providers can send worldwide.
- Scalability. As your customers and orders increase, you need to be able to handle them. Since many ecommerce platforms provide unlimited bandwidth and products, upscaling an online store is effortless.
Which Ecommerce Platform Works Best for You?
There are some aspects to consider before getting an ecommerce platform. The following are some of them:
- Hosting and Domain Name. Some platforms in this article, including OpenCart and Magento, have to be installed on a hosting service. Apart from that, they require you to buy a domain name.
- Customer Support. Excellent customer support offers multiple ways to contact their agents. Unfortunately, not all platforms provide that. PrestaShop and OpenCart even ask users to pay for limited support.
- Features (Built-in or with Add-ons). When creating an online shop, it is important to plan what features you will use. Doing this will affect your expenses if the platform that you use relies on add-ons for its functionality. Some other platforms, however, offer various built-in features.
- Template Customization. If you are experienced in coding, choosing a platform that allows for in-depth template customization may be the best choice. Otherwise, you should use a drag-and-drop web builder.
Ecommerce platforms make it easy for people to build online stores and run their business on the internet.
To help you find the best fit, I highlighted the key benefits of each platform in this article:
- Shopify – pricey, but offers many selections of useful add-ons
- WooCommerce – provides in-depth customization through WordPress’s themes and plugins.
- Magento – supports MVC site architecture, which can be used to increase page load speed.
- Wix – a beginner’s best choice that offers many professional-looking templates.
- BigCommerce – has a WordPress plugin that allows users to use both the CMS and the ecommerce platform.
- OpenCart – allows for unlimited products and integrates with various dropshipping services.
- Volusion – not for users with a small budget, but offers an all-in-one solution with many built-in features and powerful integrations.
- PrestaShop – supports effortless store migration and editing of URL and meta title.
- Squarespace – has good scalability and great features out of the box.
- 3dcart – allows users to manage their Google Shopping spreadsheet without add-ons.
If you have any questions or recommendations about ecommerce platforms, kindly leave a comment below!